This flavoured wheat beer from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill Ontario is yellowish orange in colour and pours with a large, soapy white head that hangs on as a thin collar without leaving much lace. Weiss O’ Lantern has a funky and outdoorsy, but very appealing smell. Staple yeast and bubble gum aromas from its hefeweizen base are joined by notes of fresh grains, mature pumpkin, lemongrass and spices.
The taste of Weiss O’ Lantern has banana and yeast overtones and a hefty dose of orange rind. The pumpkin purée flavour is mild and a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove imparts a nice dryness. The beer has a silky smooth, creamy mouthfeel with a small burst of yeast on the tongue. The finish brings a honey sweetened malt flavour and the aftertaste has hints of the spices, along with a mild bitterness.
The Legendary Spring Oddity from Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario pours a clear, light golden colour with a medium sized and frothy white head that has good retention and leaves some spotty lacing. The smell of this seasonal hybrid ale is like a spiced-up Belgian tripel. An almost sour, apple-like aroma is joined by hints of the heather tips, juniper berries and orange zest used in the brewing process and backed by a sweet caramel aroma and a soft yeast tone.
The Legendary Spring Oddity has a crisp and spicy taste with a lot going on. Apples, soapy and floral hops, toasted light grains and berries are backed up by a solid yeast character. The ale is full-bodied with a medium carbonation level. There is a nice pop on the tongue, then a yeasty, biscuit-like feeling. The finish is dry and the aftertaste has a lingering sweetness that becomes more prevalent after warming, followed by the melange of spices and a subtle hint of alcohol.
Yuletide Cherry Porter from the Barley Days Brewery in Picton, Ontario pours an opaque black with a deep, brownish red visible around the edges and a small tan coloured head that hangs on as a thin collar and leaves a fair amount of lacing. This seasonal beer smells like dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans and fresh, unripened cherries. Its aroma has a liqueur or boxed chocolate feel about it.
Yuletide Cherry Porter tastes like freshly ground bitter coffee, with a strong chocolate tone behind it. Juicy dark cherry and plum-like fruit flavours are very bright and are mellowed by a slightly woody finish that carries a roasted note. The porter is medium-bodied with a low carbonation. Yeast creates a subtle prickly, but creamy sensation on the tongue and the bright fruit tones linger in a moderately bitter aftertaste.
Hop Head IPA from the Tree Brewing Company in Kelowna, British Columbia pours a hazy, rusty amber colour with a sizable and frothy off-white head that settles quickly as a collared film while leaving a generous amount of lace. The aroma of this American IPA is not what I was expecting and a bit muted overall. Lightly caramelized malts have a fresh, grainy backing with a semi-sweet floral tone and a subtle hint of lemon oil and alcohol.
Hop Head IPA surprisingly tastes like toasted, chocolate malts up front. A light buttery tone gives way to an earth-like taste and a fairly strong bitterness that really lingers, but remains in control. Again, a hint of lemon or orange oil pokes through in the finish. I find it very well-balanced compared to most of its contemporaries. The beer is rather light-bodied with a medium-heavy carbonation that really pops on the tongue and a distinct oily quality that smooths over the bitterness in the aftertaste and adds to its drinkability.
Pugnacious Pale Ale from Grand River Brewing in Cambridge, Ontario pours a nice honey-amber colour with a frothy white head that settles as a thick film while leaving a moderate amount of lace. This American pale ale smells of thick, caramel-sweetened malts, freshwater and buttered popcorn. A dark fruit tone, like plums, comes through as it warms.
The taste of Pugnacious Pale Ale is very malt-forward. A buttered, heavy bread taste gives way to a brewed tea note and crisp and bitter finish with a hint of lemon zest. The beer has a fairly heavy mouthfeel with a medium carbonation that's prickly on the tongue and a mostly clean aftertaste with a slight yeasty tone.
Köstritzer Schwarzbier from Köstritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei GmbH & Company in Köstritz/Thüringen, Germany pours an extremely dark burgundy-brown colour with a thick, creamy and frothy head that laces your glass and settles as a thin layer. The aroma, which develops more as the beer warms, smells of fresh grains and freshwater. There is also a roasted chocolate tone, hints of dark fruit and a slight smokiness.
This beer carries a satisfying body and a creamy mouthfeel that helps it slide down your throat. I find Köstritzer Schwarzbier dangerously drinkable thanks in part to a crisp and clean finish. The taste is a bit on the sweet side and malt forward. Like the aroma, I get a roasted chocolate body primarily. There's a nice, grassy, slightly spicy hop bitterness to keep things balanced and I get a distinct mineral flavour just before the finish takes over.